Archive for March, 2010

dband blog

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

My son-in-law’s band is putting out a serious product these days.  Much of what is on his heart for Desperation Band is around orphan support.   Scope out their blog.  There is lots of fun stuff to check out on the website.  If you don’t know their music, it’s also worth checking out!  CLICK HERE!!!

see the LIGHT UP THE WORLD video here!!!


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protocol and honor

March 28, 2010 1 comment

As the number of spiritual children increase around Patti and myself, we notice that we are invited into more and more courtship situations on a daily basis.   Having raised two natural daughters and a few other spiritual sons and daughters, I have some history in these waters.  Protocols around dating, courting and even the asking for a woman’s hand in marriage is vitally important.  The men who married my daughters did it right.  It made stepping through the doors of “transference of headship” so easy and even enjoyable!  It was a holy moment in time when they asked for their hand and heart.  Patti and I both had so much respect for them because of how they honored our daughters and us.  They got the seriousness of what they were asking us for.  So briefly, let me just issue a flat statement on these protocols and here is hoping it lands with impact and precision.

“Sir, thank you for taking the time to come and talk to me (us).  The fact that my daughter is attached to you is the only comfort I personally have in this matter.  Spiritual fathers (if I am truly that) are usually ready to release their daughters when it bears witness in his own spirit that the man a daughter is attracted to is living in destiny, submitted to headship, under apostolic authority, free of church religion and has shown by many trials that he is faithful, capable and able to provide, protect and lead that daughter.

I am at a disadvantage here.  I may not know you.  So, there really isn’t anything you can “tell” me about yourself that will give me a sense of peace in this.  I can’t really be sold on the ideal of this.  For me to be at peace would require me to meet and talk with you… know you… get a read on your spirit.  I am not saying that I will not bless this.  I am not saying that it should not happen until I have that peace.  I am saying that I do not have rest about this… it is a simple truth.  Sometimes, fathers have to trust the daughter… period!  I don’t have any other option but to do just that.

In Kingdom culture, “spiritual” young men who choose to honor a woman properly, seek the permission of parents before they date, court or propose marriage.  They explore the wisdom and advice of spiritual counselors before they court and develop relationships.  If you really want to seal the deal, find a way to express your willingness to become a “son” and then do something about that.  Remember, we want to love you too!

Also, let me encourage you to understand that my daughter is not your possession, property or mate until after you are married.  I will ask you to honor all purity in regards to sexuality until she is your wife.  I will hold you personally responsible of such and I will ask you directly about this.  It is important that you remain strong and proper in all context of this relationship.  She deserves you to be strong and you don’t have the right to  just take what you want.  For you to fail in this arena is an invitation to blockages that may take you years to untangle in your marriage.  She is worth the wait.  Prove your strength.   Proper covenant demands this.  The world thinks this is just ‘old fashioned’ and out of date.  It is not… it is Kingdom.


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seasoned speech

March 22, 2010 5 comments

You want me to do what?  How can this be?  I do believe I heard correctly and I am trying to honor what I believe the Lord has said to me about “loving” my president.  I did not vote for President Obama and I don’t necessarily agree with him politically on many issues, but I do love him.  I also love his wife and kids.  I am cautioned concerning my words about the man because if affects me directly about how I pray for him.  It feels like hypocrisy for me to pray for him and my country and then turn around and bad mouth him publicly!  The negative rhetoric, racial slurs and incessant bantering about the leader of our country is of no value to the overall condition of our country.  It CHANGES nothing.

I’m  familiar with scripture and I don’t remember reading anything from the mouth of Jesus that was remotely terse toward Caesar or any  governmental official in the system.  He knew full well how events towards the end of his life was going to end.  If anyone had the “right” to spew negative words towards Big Brother, it was Jesus.  But, He did not partake.

I wonder if we need to rethink our verbal projectiles?


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identity first

March 14, 2010 6 comments

Patti and I get lots and lots of face time and correspondence with young adults (most of them single). If you sit with any of them for very long, inevitably the discussion of marriage, prospects of marriage, opinions of marriage, hopes  of or the stiff-arm of marriage explodes to the surface like a Great White that has spotted an unsuspecting seal for dinner!   There are usually plenty of laughs, speculation and at times tears in these discussions, but it is very evident that marriage is still a hot topic in the hearts and minds of most young adults.  I think this is a VERY good thing.

Having been married 32 years to the same woman, (She was 18 and I was 19 when we got hitched.  I was ignorant, immature, naive, full of crap, real immature, narcissistic, clue-less, very immature, selfish, prideful, lost, totally immature, in lust and in love with that hot chick!  Oh…and off the charts immature.  I still can’t believe our parents signed-off on it.  It was crazy, but God came and we made it work!) we listen intently (the previous list warrants lots and lots of grace) and usually offer as much information as they want.  This generation seems to fall into  three categories:  The first, is a bit slower and more intent about getting their ducks in a row and having as many issues as possible resolved before committing to a long term relationship.  We chuckle at this because no amount of damage control on the front end will ward off the work required to make a marriage work.  I am not saying it is a waste! I’m just saying that it is NOT foolproof.  Marriage is work, a good work…but work nonetheless.  The second group, seems to be in a big hurry with the conception that marriage will fix everything.  I am conscious enough to know about body clocks, hormones, and the pleasure of God-given sexuality to know that it has to be very difficult to be 26 years old, in the best shape of your life and not have a mate to hammer out life with; all the while, trying to stay pure and honorable before the Lord!  As I have already mention, I was 19 years old when I married Ms Patti.  I’ve had a best friend and lover for a long time.  The third group is ready for marriage, but the right connections with the right person at the right time hasn’t happened yet.  These people are usually very content, happy in their singleness, but open to the whole prospects of having someone to do life with.

Usually where our counsel goes when someone is really aching to be married, is to focus in on the amount of peace they currently have on their life.  That peace is tied to their confidence in God’s ability and willingness to provide for what they desire and need.  It is also tied to stability in their own identity.  Many are scrambling around trying to figure out their value and self-hood in this life and too often it is just assumed that having a life partner (sorry, that sounds really gay) is the answer to all their questions.  We hear it all too much:  “All I need is_____!” Even if every friend you have is now married and you have a closet full of  hideous bridesmaid’s dresses  (ladies) or a drawer full of cheap key chains (guys), that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s  “bidness time” and you’re ready to be married.  To complicate it even more, if a person knows what they want for a mate, but is unwilling to wait for “their special somebody” with those character qualities deemed most important naturally and spiritually, impatience kicks in and every little flaw in a premature  or “short-cutted” decision ends up being like a target for the enemy to torment with lies and propositions after the deed is done.  After a person is married and “in” covenant is not the time to have the discussions with internal doubt and the musing from hell concerning “did I do the right thing?” We’ve prayed with more than one person plagued with these thoughts…it is NOT kewl!

For an unmarried catholic priest, Richard Rohr O.F.M., points out our misconceptions like a champion bird dog:  “One of the big myths in our culture is that marriage is the answer to one’s problems.  Instead, I’m told, marriage reveals one’s problems.  The people who enjoy marriage are those who first have learned to live life itself.  You can’t create intimacy without identity.  Rather than being the save-all answer to problems, anyone who understands marriage knows it creates a whole set of new ones.  It makes us aware of a need to grow, a need to forgive, to share, to die.  Better to come into married commitment with some sense of those needs and an appreciation that their fulfillment is the work of a lifetime.  Marriage won’t always meet these needs; it puts the couple in a context for working together.  In that context, we learn our issues and problems–and we are given a partner to walk with through those problems.” from Richard’s book, The Spiritual Family and the Natural Family

Let me repeat the mother-lode ideal here:  YOU CAN’T CREATE INTIMACY WITHOUT IDENTITY!!!! Once you’ve found peace in who God has created you to be and what He says about you; and you can settle into a  calm contentment that comes in that “knowing”, THEN you are probably ready to give yourself away and serve your mate in a fashion that brings you and them great happiness and joy.   Intimacy from that place of peace is beyond description…it can only be experienced.  Trying to find completion of your own identity in the gifts, personality or calling of another person is sketchy at best. I say that because people don’t stay in one place.  We change over time.  It’s not that uncommon for me to notice my wife staring at me and to hear the words:  “Uh, honey, who are you?  Was there some kind of alien abduction while we slept last night?  Where is that other guy I’ve known…the one that was here yesterday?” I do the same thing to her… all the time!

We talk about transitions frequently with our spiritual community.  We see what happens to a  young man or woman in the eleven months that they serve on The World Race. Although we discourage it, some hang on to relationships back home while on the Race.  Those particular relationships  will have a drastic challenge when all the dust settles because a racer’s spiritual DNA changes so much while out on the field.  That means that identity changes, desire changes, spirituality changes, theology changes, community changes…it all changes!  That is a lot of stretching and being pulled through the knot-hole in one year!  It may not be that easy to see now, but it might just be a major blessing to not be married while all that demolition and reconstruction are taking place.  Again, we must journey back to the assurance of peace and contentment that “our” special somebody is out there and they may be stuck in their own little private knot-hole.   God might be doing me a huge favor in the delays.  Meanwhile, me working out “my stuff” with the lord probably has me “right on time” to truly get what I desire in the arena of eternal friendship , covenant and marriage.  HE knows where you are and HE knows what you want.  It is ok if it is not all falling into place today!

It is nearly impossible to discuss all the facets and tributaries of marriage.  The statistics and success ratios are not all that great in our culture, but Patti and I think that marriage is still a really good ideal.  It always has been a good ideal.  Maybe one of the best that God has ever had!  It is lots of work and requires abundant and graceful maintenance, but when the machine runs properly and efficiently, it’s quite a ride!  A great life!  The best!


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bumper stickers *revised*

March 11, 2010 Leave a comment

The “Got Milk?” ad people are ingenious!  I did a Google search on the campaign and the people that they’ve gotten to endorse the message is out of control!  Even Batman is in the loop.  They now have a website where you can order hats, bibs, posters and of course…bumper stickers.

Just like you, I see all kinds of bumper stickers.  Most of them are political.  Some are hilarious and every now and then you’ll get one that is just down-right inappropriate.  I cracked up a couple days ago by a sticker I saw on an old busted / rusted pick-up truck.  The driver was probably in his late 70s and  he had four dogs in the back of the truck checking out traffic.  The sticker read:  “MY BORDER COLLIE IS SMARTER THAN YOUR HONOR STUDENT”. I could not contain the laughter!   People in Colorado are crazy about their dogs.  Geez!

In all honesty, I abhor religious bumper stickers!  I’ve never seen one I like.  Even the displayed “ichthus” just rubs me the wrong way.   I don’t have the energy to explain to you why this kind of thing wears me out, but recently I had to run an errand a couple miles from the house.  I pulled up behind a vehicle that had this particular bumper-sticker proudly displayed on it’s back window:   “GOT JESUS?” *sigh* It’s all too common in the town where I now live, where I came from…just about everywhere.

Now, I will defend the right of that driver to display whatever they choose on their car, but I have a problem with the entire notion!  I had to stuff down all kinds of preconceived thoughts and judgements.  Was this a weak and ineffective (in my estimation) attempt to evangelize the masses and send a message?  Why?  Why send this message this way?  Why not LIVE the message, BE the message (Acts 1:8)?  I do not remember reading anything in scripture about Jesus OR his disciples carrying around a sign that said “Please receive ME, accept ME, take ME!  GOT ME?” He did “say” these kinds of things…sorta, but it was always with personal delivery, backed up by flesh, blood and Spirit.  I can not imagine anyone reading that bumper sticker and then having an internal discussion that leads to their ultimate decision to receive Jesus!   More disturbing I think, it just fuels lost people to dig in just an 1/8th of an inch deeper in the scoff and mockery of something that can not be explained without tangible love.  Maybe the goofy thing works (it just seems too shallow, too thin, too rigid, too religious…too frikk’n easy), but I have doubts about that.

The guys at NOOMA did a video call “Bullhorn” that takes issue with the same concern.  If you’re hung in religious performance and you don’t have “eyes to see”, it’s hard to imagine the ineffectiveness of your “well meaning” but sterile zealotry.  It is the normal  and bored expression of dead religion…period! There is nothing “alive” in it.  Much like Flick with his tongue iced to a flagpole, we get “stuck, stuck, STUCK!” by our traditions, religious notions and possible bad medicine from the pulpits we grew up around. I know that there were times that I’ve been guilty of promoting this dead religious fluff! Please forgive me!

Ok, some of you know me well enough to know that I NOW creep-out at this kind of stuff, but that is not my real point.  The bottom line here is that I think that the goofy bumper sticker is actually poising the wrong question!  I think the better question or the real question is this:  “DOES JESUS GOT YOU?” Yeah, my old High School English teacher just threw up in her mouth a little bit and maybe that is why I’m not in the advertising business, but it still is a good question that requires reflective inventory.  Too many people “got” Jesus, but I’m not too sure that Jesus or the Holy Spirit has all of us.  Maybe “some” of us, but “all” of us?  Does HE “have” my heart, my life, my family, my marriage, my finances, my hopes, my future, my dreams, my appetites, my fears, my body, my circumstances, my relationships, my kids, my work, my service, my worship, my friendships, me?  Does He “got” those things from us?   It’s the better question.   One that requires me to actually process with integrity and relentless honesty what the real stuff is in my life.  That’s the advertisement that I think HE approves of and endorses!  And PLEASE…don’t “Honk if you love Jesus!” A smile, a hug, a touch works a lot better.   Really it does!


planes, trains, hell

March 8, 2010 4 comments

I didn’t realize how bad it’s gotten.  The incessant whining about my personal discomfort on airplanes.  It dawned on me yesterday right after I had hit the “send” button on an online survey that American Airlines had sent me after our recent trip to Thailand.  Most of the questions were multiple choice and they provided the progression bar that shows you how close you are to finishing their survey.  I appreciate the heads up and constant awareness of how close I am to being done with what I agreed to do.  The last question of the survey was simple:  “Any comment you would like to offer to American Airlines about our service?” Oh man, finally!  Here was my opportunity to share my real thoughts.  So, I dumped my load:  “THE BOEING 777 USED IN THE AA FLEET, IS THE MOST MISERABLE PIECE OF FLYING MACHINERY EVER CREATED BY MAN!” I know what you’re thinking:  Geez Mike!  How do you really feel about it?  Who inserted the hot poker up your sewer pipe?

Once we get to a location to debrief a squad, I’m happy as a lark!  Being with the kids  on THE WORLD RACE quickly erases the torment, but the getting-to and getting-back from a trip overseas is “hell” for me.  I’m 6′ 5″ , I weigh too much and the coach lounge on most planes do not have “my” type body or frame in consideration when they started drilling the holes for the seat brackets.  The list of my grievances are too many to mention here.  It’s pathetic really.  “I’m” pathetic when it comes to these flying torture chambers.  We have Platinum status with American, but you have to either buy a certain kind of ticket for upgrade possibilities (more expensive) or buy the actual upgrade with miles and cash for overseas travel (it’s just crazy). So, until Bill Gates or Warren Buffet decide to begin their monthly support of ETI, none of those possibilities are going to happen any time soon.

One of my buddies who travels more than I do says, “I just go comatose.” He’ll try to sleep but for the most part, he just shuts it all down and just stares into nothingness.  He doesn’t eat, drink, stir…nothing.  He will read, but that’s  about it.  Another friend has two glasses of wine and pops an Ambien.  Gone!  Nite-nite sweet prince, but it doesn’t work for me.  I can barely get my legs into position in front of me on a plane.  Actually getting comfortable enough to even doze off (drug induced or not) just will not happen.  So, I’m the guy roaming the aisles on the plane while  the rest of you are napping.  Some of you are really scary when you sleep, so it’s a good thing you don’t have to see what I see when I’m on my nocturnal wanderings.   No, I don’t really have to pee that much, but it’s just something to do and it’s a change of scenery.  Yes sir, you bought the seat right in front of me and you do have the right to lean ALL the way back so you can sleep, but when you do that…I AM TOTALLY HOSED!   My number 11’s in the aisle  up near YOUR feet, are an indicator that “Houston, we have a problem!”  So, I usually just turn sideways with my feet in the aisle and sulk.   I know the flight attendants cuss me, constantly having to step over me, but I don’t have any other options.  Feeling sorry for me yet?  I told you…it’s pathetic.

Team 180 on “L” squad, just spent 24 hours on a train getting out of Vietnam.  Don’t make the mistake of picturing the cushy seating on Amtrak  or the trains in Europe.  Visualize a straight backed park bench for seating in the foyer at your  favorite backwoods County Courthouse.  Kelsi Dawe recorded the positives of this trip in a video.  It’s a fun video, but take a look and you’ll see what these racers sometimes endure in their travel schedule.  SEE KELSI’S VIDEO:  CLICK HERE. To be truthful, I have been convicted, <again>, about my attitude concerning my own little personal “hell” on airplanes.  I know Patti will read this and it will be her personal mission and  holy duty to help remind me, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to live in “thanks”, choose “joy” and stop all the murmuring about my personal discomfort while flying.  No one  enjoys sitting in coach while crossing the planet…NO ONE!  It’s just the price you pay to do the deal.  It’s the cost to be with our spiritual sons and daughters on the field.  You are invited to ask me when you see me.  I’m working on a right verbal response that reflects a real change in my head and heart.  *sigh* Help Me Jesus!



March 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Several years ago, I purchased a little book of short devotionals centered on faith compiled from various sermons given by Smith Wigglesworth.  One of the lessons deals with the following text:

James 1:5  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  6 But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  7 For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 {being} a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NAS)

Smith’s approach is one that I had never really considered.  Of course God is “able” to meet every need and every desire.  Of course God responds to our faith.  Of course we are to pray and seek God’s involvement in our life.  The text does say, “Let him ask…!” But, Smith handled the text in a way that really opened my eyes to an aspect of faith that I think that the Body might be missing.  He takes the position that our asking over and over and over shows a “lack” of faith on our part.  Let me quote a bit here:

“I am satisfied that God, who is the builder of divine order, never brings confusion in His order.  If you want this divine order in your life, if you want wisdom, you have to come to God believing.  I want to impress upon you the fact that if you ask six times for anything, it shows you are an unbelieving person.  If you really believe, you will ask God only once, and that is all you need because He has abundance for your every need.  But if you go right in the face of asking once, and ask six times, He knows very well you do not mean what you ask, so you do not get it.  God does not honor unbelief.  He honors faith.  For example, if you ask God once for healing, you will get it.  But if you ask a thousand times a day till you forgot what you were asking, you’re not asking in faith.  If you would, ask God for your healing now, then begin praising Him.  He never breaks His promise.  You would go out perfect. `Only believe.’”  Excerpted: “Temptation Endured,” Bible study no 12, 12 July 1927, 10-11, Smith Wigglesworth on Faith, Creation House, 1996.

Wow!  In all my years of studying God’s Word, I never had really considered that angle.  I think it is right.  Too often my praying has been faithless because all I’ve done is ask without really believing…over and over and over again.  Bringing yesterday’s lesson back into focus, I think we have already been invited behind the counter.  We don’t have to peer into our blessing cabinet and tap the glass until God answers us.  He greets us at the door and we have all access to the storehouse.  Asking is necessary and it does magnify our faith in Whom we ask.  But we nullify our faith by not believing we have what we ask for.  Once we get this information into our spirit and it becomes reality to us, we will pray differently. I also think we need to re-evaluate who it is that is really doing the heavy lifting.  I think we’ve put a little too much emphasis on “our” part…which can be another form of work or performance.  I can’t see Him allowing us to capitalize on our works in this department.  Once we reduce it to our work, another religious formula, faith leaves the building like Elvis–big hair and all!  There is some mystery in all this.   I say it all the time:  God isn’t an ATM.  We can’t put in our card…push a few buttons…and get our desired miracle.  We are dealing with God here.

Lord, I want to exercise and grow my faith.   I want to believe what I’m asking for!  Thank you that you are faithful and nothing escapes Your attention.  I bless your Name today!  You are good!


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tap tap

March 4, 2010 1 comment

Luke 11:1 One day he (Jesus) was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” 2 So he said, “When you pray, say, Father, Reveal who you are. Set the world right. 3 Keep us alive with three square meals. 4 Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.” 5 Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. 6 An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’ 7 “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’ 8 “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. 9 “Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open. 10 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. 11 If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? 12 If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? 13 As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing – you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?  -The Message-

“The sound could be mind numbing!  Bessie’s Store was just across the street from the Elementary School that I grew up going to.  If you were lucky enough to have received permission to eat lunch at the store, the smell of griddle-cooked hamburgers (not a frozen patty) would reach you before you crossed the street.  Fifty cents would get you a burger and a Delaware Punch soft drink.  It was noontime bliss!  But, after the eating, the real line of attack began.

Bessie had a closed-in glass display that was only accessible from the backside of the counter.  Inside were all kinds of treasures that you could purchase for a nickel.  You know…valuables like wax lips, gum, baseball cards, Green Hornet decoder rings, and whistles.  What in the fat was that woman thinking?  Anyway, one nickel was the price, but having a nickel was only half the battle.  Thirty kids trying to get their loot and exit to the playground with time to spare required strategy and positioning!  To get Bessie’s attention each kid would take their nickel and tap the big glass that showcased the valuable merchandise.  One or two taps wasn’t too bad, but 15 to 20 tapping nickels would wrack your brain!  Between grilling the burgers and answering the beckon call of that deafening racket, poor Bessie always looked real tired, undone and major stressed!  I was also amazed at how fast she moved behind the counter.  She answered each tapping nickel with precision and efficiency.  Surely it was more out of self-preservation and sanity!

Even though the text today points to persistence, it’s important that we understand that the persistence is about coming to the right source of our help…to Him.  The mindless-ceaseless tapping may not be totally necessary.  More on this tomorrow, but here is today’s truth.  God is behind the case and He does answer taps.  We are all invited to tap!

Father too often, I come to the case without my nickel, but you answer out of Your abundance.  Thank you for keeping the store open


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March 3, 2010 4 comments

(This is a blog I wrote a couple months after doing the funeral of a family member in Texas back in the summer of 2008.  Our brushing up against  man’s mortality are some of the most sobering moments for all of us.  Life really is a vapor!)  – MDP-

It happened to me again last Sunday. Another person, who I did not personally know, came up to me to tell me that they were at the funeral a couple months ago and heard what I said concerning “church attendance”. About the only thing she repeated correctly in what I said, was the usage of the word “screwed”. But, she was very sweet and was trying to encourage and compliment me that I had taken such a risk and said such a thing in that particular setting.  (Let me warn you straight up…I’m going to tell you exactly what I said later in this blog…but in PROPER context!)

As I have already mentioned, this isn’t the first time I’ve been approached about this. I received all kinds of feedback within hours of the funeral. The only thing I really care about when I do a wedding or a funeral is whether or not the family got what I was saying and that they were blessed or not. That is the bottomline for me and I usually don’t give a rip about what the crowd hears or feels in either one of those situations. In this very difficult situation the family overwhelmed me with their words of acceptance to my ministry that day. But, in all fairness, I need to point out that this family is not what we might call “church people”…by that I mean, people grafted deeply into regular church attendance. I render no thought about their relationship to the Lord. To me, the two are not relevant and MAYBE that is the deeper point of what I’m writing about. Standing in the pulpit at that funeral was a very significant sight. It felt almost biblical…if I may use that word? Before the service ever started I believed that the large majority of the attendees would be young adults, friends of the deceased and unchurched people. I don’t think I was wrong in that assumption. Of course there were “church people” sprinkled throughout the place, but I felt like I was in a foreign land…bringing the “good news” to ears that were hearing it for the very first time. I was very honored to be involved, but I knew the task was touchy and holy at the same time. So, I actually made a distinction in my spirit about who I was going to talk too. I chose to talk to the family, the lost, the unchurched. Take a wild guess who the people were that got offended and most disturbed by my “church attendance” comments?  I’m smiling right now, because you already know who was offended! I told you this felt like a scene right out of the gospels. I don’t have to hit this too hard, but very little truth that Jesus verbalized was received or accepted by the religious police and “system people” of his time. About 100% of the time, the pharisees, saducees and scribes were totally put off by the words of our Lord. How can it be, that the most significant man to ever walk the face of our planet could offend so many people who supposedly loved and served God? But, it happened over and over again…so much so that they finally took him out permanently…or so they thought. I’m sure the same kind of emotions and feelings could be generated within a few seconds if someone like myself or any other preacher in McGregor was seen eating breakfast in the Coffee Shop with a known prostitute or drug dealer. That would be a scene way too juicy for a normal “church person” not to judge and then gossip about! It’s an old drum that I beat on a regular basis, but I can’t help myself. Sorry!

So, here is how it went down. I was finishing the message making the last of five points taken from my favorite author Franciscan Richard Rohr. I had massaged them to fit my message, but the last point was (and this is verbatim out of my notes): IT IS TRUE THAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US WILL DIE AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE…BUT, DEATH IS NOT THE END…IT IS A NEW BEGINNING. Then I read this passage of scripture:

John 14:1-61 “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, {there} you may be also.4 “And you know the way where I am going.”5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. (NAS)

Then I made the comment in question (verbatim): “Too often we picture the long-bony finger of God stuck in our face and He’s making a “last second determination” concerning our prospects of heaven, based on whether we go to church or not! Looking across this room…if that is true…WE ARE SCREWED!”

“Mike…do you have any regrets about saying this?” Honestly, I have zero regrets about it. Why? Because I believe it’s true. Because I don’t really care that some “church person” or “religious person” was offended by it. I do care about them as an individual and I’m always available to anyone who might have a need. Also, I do care that people heard this in a way that totally missed the point, but I don’t have any control over that. That just comes with the public proclamation of preaching. Some people only hear what they want to hear…and rarely is anything repeated in the right context. I can’t worry about it and definitely can’t fix it with everyone. Yes, the Apostle Paul did say this “Let your speech be with grace, seasoned as with salt…” But, let me ask you a question. For those of you who heard the talk, was the speech seasoned with grace? Is there “grace” in the thought that a relationship with the Lord is not determined by God on whether or not a person goes to church or not? Have you ever read Matthew chapter 23? Does that sound like grace to you? Be sure to notice that every verse in that chapter is in red letters except one! After close to 32 years of studying scripture I believe that Chapter 23 of Matthew is one of the most grace-filled books in the gospel! How can I possibly think that? Because, Jesus was having a truth encounter with people who thought they had cornered the God Market! God with skin was standing in front of them confronting their religious ideals and reminded them…“you know most of the scripture but you don’t have a clue who I am!” Honestly, that kind of brutal truth feels harsh, but it is a real “gift” / “grace” to someone who cares more about what God wants than what he or she wants! Sometimes I think we have goofy ideals about the definition of “grace”. I actually did say, that I went to church, liked church, believed in church and thought church was a good ideal for everyone! No way did I say or imply that “church” is a bad thing! No way! But again…that isn’t the point! GOD DOESN’T DETERMINE HIS LOVE, FORGIVENESS AND ACCEPTANCE TOWARDS US BASED ON OUR CHURCH ATTENDANCE!!!! That was the whole purpose in what I said that dreadful and teary day.

I’ll end this with a memory. I had just gone out of the church in front of the casket. A young hispanic kid, prolly early 20’s, came up to me and grabbed my hand. He had multiple tattoos, more than one piercing on his face, but he was neatly dressed. A very good looking kid! Anyway, as a few tears dropped from his chin I heard his chilling words that still press my spirit: “Thank you for saying what you said. It touched my heart deeply. I think I can follow the Jesus you talked about.” That was enough for me!


Categories: Uncategorized

treading on the trauma of transition

March 2, 2010 2 comments

(My family suggested I go back and gather some of my old blogs from the ECF website.  I’ll do that every now and then when the urge hits me)

You’ve seen it haven’t you?  I’ve watched it countless times.  Having grown up in a small community that was fortunate to have a public swimming pool, lots of kids spend their summer days hanging out at the pool.  It seemed daily that there was another 5, 6 or 7 year old kid who climbed the 3 meter diving board to make that inaugural leap of faith into the sparkling bed of liquid blue diamonds.  It always played out the same…the slow climb to the top, a parent, a brother or sister on the side of the pool chattering away encouragement or rebuke, the shuffle towards the end of the handrail and ultimately that last couple of steps to the end of the diving board.  It was at the end of that sandpaper textured plank where a decision had to be made.   What didn’t look so high from the side of the pool, now appears to be a sure free-fall into nothing larger than a toilet bowl.  Fear sets in.  The mind squeals that death is probably certain.  Knees knock, a war with the will ensues and some actually back away, grab the rail and shimmy back down the ladder.  The pool I grew up at wouldn’t allow the back-track to the ground.  Jumping off was the only exit.  Tears would show up and many a lifeguard actually had to climb up the ladder and enforce the poor kid’s plight.   Plenty of fingernail has been gnawed up there, but ultimately the leap of faith, leap of terror, leap of freedom and conquest of the goal ensued.  It was rare for a kid not the march straight back to the line and “do it again”.  But the first time to pursue the unknown is sobering and can be quite life changing.

We’ve been talking a lot about “transition” around ECF.  It does seem that the whole world is in movement with some kind of divine orchestration for change.  Hindes brought a great message when he was here.  Most sermons for the past few months are saturated with the ingredients of transition and change.  We are in “it” and we know it.  Wished that made it easier!

Jesus went thru something very similar with his disciples.  For three years he hung out with his boys.  They saw first-hand what only the rest of the world has read about.  They knew him, how he smelled, what he liked to eat, knew that he had a different way of looking at people.  You couldn’t guess in a million years how he was going to respond to anything.  He had changed their world and every one had an opinion about Jesus.  The buzz of living around Him was like a drug.  Like him, love him, hate him…you knew when He was around or engaged in a moment…anything could happen.   Life was good.  Life was crazy.  People everywhere were clamoring for something from him.  It was intoxicating and draining at the same time.  Quiet with Jesus was so precious.  His undivided attention to a question or issue had to be like liquid gold.  What a ride for a bunch of goobers He called to follow him!

The most familiar text in His transition speech is found in John 14. It’s emotional enough, but Peterson’s way puts a little sugar in the medicine.  It goes down pretty smooth.  “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me.  There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you?  And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live.  And you already know the road I’m taking.”  Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?”  Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me.  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”  Philip said, “Master, show us the Father; then we’ll be content.”  “You’ve been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don’t understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, ‘Where is the Father?’  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren’t mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.  “Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can’t believe that, believe what you see – these works.  The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it.  From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it.  Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.  “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you.  I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you.  This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!  I will not leave you orphaned.  I’m coming back.  In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive.  At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.”

I have to believe that Jesus knew exactly what the boys needed to hear!  I also have to believe that he had total confidence in their ability to transition into their destiny without becoming emotional mush in ladder climbs and shuffles across narrow and shaky planks.  Without saying it, He tells them that they need to grow up in their faith, assume some responsibility for the plan and to become “effectual doers” of the Word!  Not easy words for them to process back then.  Not easy words for us now considering our fragile narcissistic culture.  BUT, He knows.  He knows everything.  Everyone one of us has to let go of a rail that directs us back down a trail to our past and what appears to be the illusion of safety.  The leap requires faith and a stomach for a little free falling!  Yippers, we’ve never been here before.  But, we had never been to the last place we just came from either.  IT IS time to go.  It is time to jump.  It is time to put it all out there on the edge.  It really is time to allow Father God to be OUR Father.  I say we jump!  I say we find out.  I say we obey the passion inside of us for what He has promised.  Up we go..toes to the end…lean into it…launch yourself…enjoy the ride!

Oh yeah…it helps to scream…”CANNONBALL!”


Categories: Uncategorized